The red grape variety comes from Spain. The 100 or so synonyms testify to its great age and wide distribution. The most important of these are grouped alphabetically by country (the other main names are in bold) Mataro(Australia, California); Balsac Noir, Balthazar, Balzac Noir, Balzar, Beausset, Bon Avis, Catalan, Clairette Noire, Damas Noir, Espagnen, Espar, Marseillais, Morvede, Mourvede, Mourvedon, Mourvèdre, Murviedro, Plant de Ledenon, Plant de Saint Gilles (France); Negria (Greece); Rossola Nera (Corsica); Alcallata, Alcayata, Alicante, Benada, Benadu, Bani Carlo, Berardi, Casca, Caymilari Sarda, Del Reyno, Garrut, Gayata, Gayata Tinta, Mataró, Monastel, Monastre, Monastrel, Monastrell Garrut, Morastrell, Negrette, Negre Trinchiera, Ros, Tintilla, Torrentes, Trinchiera, Verema, Veremeta, Vereneta (Spain).
The variety was already mentioned in 1381 in Empordà (Catalonia) by the monk Francisc Eiximenis (1340-1409) with the Bobal as the most important varieties in Valencia. The name probably derives from "monasterio" (monastery). This could be an indication that the variety was first cultivated and spread by monks. The exact origin is probably the area around the city of Sagunto in the province of Valencia. Sagunto was an important wine port north of Valencia and was called Murviedro in Catalan until 1877, from which the main French name Mourvèdre is derived.